What to do with Goafest?

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While Goafest 2010 is done, it’s seems to be far from dusted. Campaign India reports that four agencies could be stripped off their medals, since some of the jury members voted for their own agency’s work. Comical stuff. The relevance of the event was questioned on CNBC’s Storyboard recently wherein senior industry folks talked about things that need to be improved in order to make the event more meaningful.

I had written briefly about the mood & atmosphere at the event on both Day 1 and Day 2. The report of possible stripping of medals and the debate on scam advertising (more on that later) prompted to ask around for ideas on how to make Goafest better (via Twitter). Herewith some responses:

@maheshmurthy: To start with there’s a ridiculous, racist rule that only non-Indians can be speakers! (as an aside, here’s my tweet during one of the sessions at Goafest)

@surekhapillai: their sm presence/usage was poor. they also shouldve hired someone like @rameshsrivats to cover the event on twitter. (I second that – both the first & second part!)

@mysti sent in a link of her company’s thoughts on the event

@thumpdotin: should goafest mean anything to the consumer?

@adityarao310: reduce fee so that poor startups like us can also attend:)

All valid. While I touched upon some of the areas for improvement in my earlier post on Goafest, a list would look like this:

1. Re-consider Goa as the venue: while some may see it as the best way to combine work & fun, I think the atmosphere simply overtakes all of that. I am not against chilling out, but that’s seems to be the only focus for so many of the attendees. Their company must be sending them in at a huge cost for them to be inspired, learn a few new things, have fun, network and celebrate good work. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive. But the beach front venue, atmosphere, the all-day partying, rain dance – all of it simply subsumes the ‘learning’ and celebrating good work’ aspects of the event. And putting up the village, the arrangements, related travel costs – all of it must be costing a bomb, surely. Is it better deployed elsewhere by the industry folks? Sure, Cannes has made a name for itself as another awards venue (with equally powerful distractions, I am sure) but from here, it appears as if there is greater emphasis there on Knowledge Seminars and sharing of learnings.

2. If it has to be Goa, let the events be in a convention hall: too late to contemplate change of venue? Sure. ‘Goafest’ is a brand name by itself. So if we have to continue building it, can it be in a convention hall? Where all the events happen inside one single venue? In my view, if there are 3000 delegates at Goafest, all 3000 must be present under the same roof, cheering the award winners. Or listening to speaker or a discussion panel. I mean, when the event was being officially inaugurated, there were a handful of people doing the pitter-patter clap of hands while the rest of the crowd was busy quaffing beer or being simply cooling off. Worse still, when the creative awards were being presented, people were busy with their own things – at the bar, catching up with friends, taking a stroll on the beach. It is insulting to the creative agency that you don’t applaud the winning entries.

3. No partying while Knowledge Sessions and Award Ceremonies are on: see Point 2. Can we plan the event in such a manner that we see all the nominated work, listen to the knowledge sessions and celebrate the award winning work under one roof, preferably on the same day? And party after the event?

4. Invite Indian speakers too: when international speakers come and speak about success stories in Bolivia or Burkina Faso it doesn’t really mean much to us. Sure, it’s nice to see international work but it would help if some Indian talented, capable Indian speakers are invited too.

5. Sharp focus for panel discussions, moderation: some of the panel discussions were totally pointless. The one on Social Media for example, involved introductions (self promotions), a series of unrelated questions to the speakers who then promptly mouthed cliches and examples that have been heard before. Before you knew it, the session was over. I got a feeling that it went this way because the topic wasn’t narrow, specific enough to have a discussion leading to a conclusion or a set of learnings.

6. No self-promotion for speakers: obvious one, this. It was frustrating to hear company representatives wax eloquent about how great their company is. Prime example and the focus of this crib should be apparent to those who attended Day 2.

7. Be ruthless about scam: need I say more? This deserves a separate blog post.

8. Get the entire industry to celebrate the event: some of the folks took this whole thing about being media neutral, too literally. They remained neutral to the media awards. And vice versa. Funny that we should talk integration to our clients and don’t practice it ourselves. The media awards, incidentally had only ‘real’ work and was very creative. Pity that the creative folks weren’t around to see the work.

9. Invite clients: assuming that most of the awarded is for real clients, designed to solve a specific business problem, it is in our interest to showcase it to the client. A client may not be aware of all the good work his agency is doing on other brands & categories. Let the clients experience the power of ideas in all it’s glory. Today, clients come in as guests of an agency, or maybe speak at the event and then vanish. Getting senior level clients to come in droves will add weight to the event.

10. Promote the event better: we are supposed to managing our client’s brands and their marketing communications. Can we do it for ourselves? Learning from the likes of Cannes, Clio and several other international award shows, we must use digital media and PR to promote the event better. At the most basic level, can we see the award winning work on the Goafest website?

And oh, stop Economic Times from playing spoil sport.

I know it’s easy to sit and make list on how to improve things. Pulling off an event the size of Goafest (with a venue change thrown in, a week before the event) is a huge and thankless task. The bigger task however is to set right the industry reputation and set right some of the issues facing India’s premier ad award show. Comments welcome.

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  1. @adityarao310: reduce fee so that poor startups like us can also attend:)

    So ironic. 70EMG's CEO Martin da Costa was quoted in Campaign India saying – Higher delegate fees will help Goafest grow. True? Then in that case increase the cost of entry submissions. Maybe that will put off the scamsters from sending a truckload of entries.

    I can't agree more that their Social Media presence is very poor. No official twitter channel or frequently updated blog. In fact few days before the start of the event, their website had a lot of pages which said page yet to be updated. And NO FREE WI-FI at the venue. WTH!

    Having a rain dance at the same time when the Knowledge sessions are on just shows the attitude of the seriousness it brings to the event. And then they complained about the low presence in the seminar hall.

    And what about the social media panel discussion – crap. the speakers had no topic in mind it seems. And most of the time they were just busy looking into their phone/laptop screens checking what's being tweeted about the event. And very little for those seated there.

    • Kapil, thanks for the comment. The social media session involved the panelists introducing their companies, answering some pointless questions. Kiruba repeated his oft–repeated Cleartrip story – it all seemed directionless. And they just thanked everyone and left.

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